Wednesday, November 10, 2004

H.L. Finch: The Illusion of Progress

Finch, H.L. Wittgenstein. Rockport, MA: Element, 1995.

The notion that the power that has been discovered and released by modern science and technology is our power, as if it were at our disposal, is itself an example of philosophical naivete since, socially or “civilizationally” speaking, we have no independent life or identity apart from the whole complex which now contains both the powers and us. We are, as it were, inextricably at one with the scientific and technological powers and do not, as we imagine, merely “make use” of them. Socially speaking, apart from them, we have no reality, and this is why, as individuals, far from being in control of these powers, we feel ourselves to be completely at their mercy. The situation, in other words, moves as a whole, and we have no footing either within it or outside it from which to change it. That the whole moves of itself in a benign direction is the illusion of progress. That we are in control of where it is going is an even more pervasive and deadly illusion. (Finch, 17)

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